Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grandad Waxes Eloquent

Today's memory is not one from long ago. This is an immediate memory for all of us in the extended family. It encompasses the on the Hill family, the Charming family, the Valiant family, and even dear Lulu of the USAF family.

If you've read my blog at all over the last week you might remember that my daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Prince Charming, took a trip to England. Their girls stayed with us during their absence. Since Lulu is also with us for the time being she was the one who shouldered the lion's share of the care while I focused upon my normal household duties. Princess and Prince Valiant also participated in keeping the girls occupied during their parents' absence. You can watch the slide show if you're interested in one way we kept the girls busy.

Well, the trip is over and everyone has returned to their own homes (except for Lulu, but that's a different story). Before the children even left our house with us to pick up their parents at the airport, Pastor Dad (the children's "Grandad"), had written a poem in honor of their stay with us. I submit it for your enjoyment in its entirety except that the children's real names have been changed to reflect their blog identities.


Thank you for stopping by and staying for awhile.
Thank you for bringing me each joy and little smile.

I know you've stopped by before and surely will again;1
But this time was longer than others may have been.

You brought me memories of girls that once were here,
Now grown and gone from me, and scattered far and near.2

Thank you for the songs you sang and stories that were read.
Thank you for the prayers we shared before you went to bed.

I noticed your obedience to Aunt Lou, Gram, and me.
I noticed you in church each time -- listening reverently.

Thank you Polly, Tigger, and Sweet Pea, too!
Help each other remember how much I love you.

By Grandad
April 28, 2009

1. They'll probably be here for Sunday dinner. :)
2. Karen, Lulu, and Princess (obviously)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Life Has Its Seasons

Remember this photo posted three months ago?

Witness the same branch now:

Just thought you might like to share a happy thought to help get through the day:

  • Same tree.

  • Different season.

  • Life is never static.

(Praise the Lord!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Manatees Were Calling

Tigger just loves manatees. You do remember that story, right? And you do remember that Polly, Tigger, and Sweet Pea are staying with us while their parents are in Europe, correct? I know that some folks (including their parents) have been waiting for posts about the girls so without further ado I will show a few pictures of our day at the zoo.

We started out our visit by riding the carousel. Tigger was able to ride the manatee. Grandad was available in case "someone" got scared. (She didn't.):

We didn't make Tigger wait too long before we went to the Manatee Springs to see the live ones. Polly and Tigger were mesmerized:

One of the manatees showing off for Tigger:

The kiddos: the Bear, Polly, and Tigger, lying in "the bubble" where the manatees will swim overhead when they're in the mood:

Have no fear, we made sure Tigger didn't sneak any baby manatees out in Sweet Pea's stroller. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two Morning Songbirds

There is a large oak tree outside of our bedroom window and I am often awakened by songbirds that are sitting in the branches awaiting their turn at the breakfast diner. Last week I became aware of a beautiful new song being sung. I am not an expert ornithologist but I do like good music!

A couple of days ago I was in the kitchen when I became aware of a bird that I didn't recognize perched on the suet feeder. He was very shy so he would not allow me to take his picture, but since I have a copy of Peterson's guide I was able to identify him as a Yellow-throated warbler. When he flew to a nearby tree I could hear him singing. He is the mysterious a.m. crooner.

The last four mornings I have been awakened by another little songbird singing in a nearby room. There aren't many words to the little songs (at least not many recognizable ones) but this little birdie also greets the morning by singing her little heart out at the top of her lungs:

I'm not much of a morning person, but how can I resist a day that begins with such beautiful music?!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Those Little Artistic Touches

Two weeks ago I told how my oldest daughter showed an interest in finances at an early age. This week is about how our second child, Lulu, exhibited a love for remodeling when just a toddler. This is a skill that Lulu puts to good use now. When she and Dan bought their house in North Carolina four years ago he made the comment that when he awoke each afternoon (he worked nights) he never knew what color the kitchen would be. Lulu loves to paint!

Since Lulu is here in Ohio with us while Dan is away for further USAF training she has done a few painting jobs for us and my parents. We are all happy.

When Lulu was 18 months old we moved to TN. We bought a house that was in desperate need of paint so the couple who housed us during our weekend visits to town helped us paint the whole inside one weekend. As we put the final touches on the last wall we became aware of an unnatural quiet. It was unnatural because Karen was all of four years of age and Lulu was child who had been in perpetual motion since she learned to walk at the age of 9 months.

A search revealed Karen quietly playing. Lulu was found in the hallway with a box of crayons adding her own finishing touches to the newly-painted walls. Evidently she thought that Crayola colors were so much more exciting than the clean off-white we had chosen.

It seems we were not done after all. But Lulu's love of decorating has never wavered.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Continuing Education, Part 3

Without further ado, I will finish telling you what I learned during the last four workshops that I attended at the Midwest Homeschool Convention last weekend. Yes, I misspoke when I said I attended 4 total. I actually attended 5 workshops. The first one was presented in Part 2.

A. Laura House was the representative speaker for Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I was so impressed by her presentation that I bought the Student Writing Intensive course to use with the Bear next year. Since I am somewhat of a kinetic learner - and so is the Bear - the fact that Mrs. House's presentation was hands-on hooked me. What do you want to know about gerbils? I can almost recite the mini-report that we wrote in class. I am looking forward to teaching this method of writing.

B. The next workshop that I attended was by Dr. Jay Wile, former university professor and author of Apologia Science curriculum (which the Bear and I use and highly recommend). This lecture was not about teaching science per se. It was more about the statistics that have been compiled about homeschoolers and their readiness to attend college. Dr. Wile's presentation both patted me on the back and slapped me in the face.

I was expecting "good job, mom" comments, and I wasn't disappointed, but I was surprised to hear that the education college of most universities is the equivalent of what we always called Basket weaving 101 in sneering voices. The cliche that says that "those who can't do, teach" is backed up by the statistics that show that as a professional group education majors are in the lower tier of academia as demonstrated by the low average of their SAT or ACT scores. Ouch! Can I just state that I had a decent score on the SAT over 30 years ago? Doesn't matter? This isn't about me? Maybe not, but it makes me feel better to state it. Can I also state that the professional teachers that I know (Prince Charming, Nephew E.'s wife, to name a few) are all brilliant? Wait a minute. All the brilliant educators I know are either homeschooling or considering it.

I guess I am not surprised by the statistics. I cannot tell you how aggravated I was a few years ago when a rather - how to say this kindly - ignorant girl that I know attended a quality university. I know that it wasn't her ACT scores that got her accepted. I'd never heard of anyone actually having a score as low as she did! But when she couldn't pass classes in any field of study her counselor placed her in the education department. I was insulted then and and I do not feel any better about this now that I know that this was not a fluke. It is sobering, to say the least.

My hurt pride aside, as I always tell moms who are considering homeschooling, no one knows the child as well as the parent does. Dr. Wile and his studies confirmed that. One-on-one tutoring is a superior way to educate a child.

He also confirmed some things that I knew from my own children's forays into private and secular colleges and universities. According to Dr. Wile, the homeschool graduates were some of the few who felt the professor meant it when he announced students could stop by his office. The Princess was dumbfounded to find that in a large state university she still had no problem making appointments to meet with her professors whenever she had questions. She also always thought it odd that she was one of the few students who actually read and comprehended course textbooks

C. I attended a seminar with my daughter, Karen, on "Notebooking" that was conducted by Cindy Wiggers of Geography Matters. I've used notebooking on and off with our children with varying degrees of success. I remember detailed ones when the Princess used Cadron Creek's "Where the Brook and River Meet" by Margie Gray,which is a high school unit study of the book "Anne of Green Gables." The Bear and I also used notebooking when we did Linda Hobar's first two volumes of "The Mystery of History" published by Bright Idea Press.

D. The last workshop that I attended was a heart-to-heart talk given by Dr. Jim Stobaugh of For Such A Time As This ministries. I attended the seminar about the prodigal child entitled "But We Had Hoped." Pastor Dad and I do not have a child that would meet the classic definition of a prodigal, but we've been close enough that the smell of pigs wafted in our nostrils and scared us. We have not reached the point where we can settle back on our laurels either since we've yet to finish raising the Bear. Would you understand if I told you that I sometimes feel like a prodigal myself? There are days...

What can I say? I needed the encouragement. Like Dr. Stobaugh and his wife, Karen, we thought we had two things working in our favor when we started homeschooling in the mid-1980s:
  1. We're a pastor's family
  2. We homeschool

It turns out that this combination does not come with any guarantee. Guess what? Our children still have their sin-nature intact. And since each person must have his/her own relationship with God it is not something that is inherited or taught. Faith is not acquired through osmosis even if someone is a homeschooled preacher's kid. But don't give up. Do what you know is right just because it is right. The goal isn't to bring glory to ourselves. It is to bring glory to God. And that's the bottom line.

It was a wonderful convention and I only got to attend one day of it. I have every intention of attending each day next year. I would encourage you to do likewise.

Who Lives Here?

As little as just 2 months ago this house was inhabited by two adults (Pastor Dad and yours truly), one child (Bear) and one dog (Pepper). We've slowly been adding to the population.

About six weeks ago we added one adult (Lulu) and two dogs (Zelda and Onyz, both of whom belong to Lulu).

Yesterday we added three more children (Polly, Tigger, and Sweet Pea) who are staying with us while their parents backpack across Great Britain. Usually, grandparents joke about making a run for the border while they have the grandchildren with them. In our case that isn't necessary. Their parents did it instead.

Thanks to Lulu for taking care of everyone while Pastor Dad and I took a day off yesterday to attend a missions conference in a city about 2 hours away from here. We drove to it after dropping Karen and Prince Charming off at the airport and returned home about midnight. Lulu was lying on the couch looking a bit weary when we arrived. Since Lulu is the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny I'm guessing that it was a very busy day for her. Lulu always says that when she and Dan start having children she'd like to have twins. I'm guessing that will change before this week is over.

Did I mention that the girls were up at 6 a.m?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Continuing Education, Part 2

I need to get this typed quickly. I've got a deadline. Okay, so the deadline is that I'm afraid I'll forget everything I learned before I get it posted. I said you can teach an old dog new tricks but I didn't say how long she'd remember them!

I'd like to share with you some of the information that I received in the workshops I attended. I promise not to plagiarize the speakers' presentations but I feel certain that there are some things they wouldn't mind having told.

The first workshop I attended was given by Karen "Spunky Homeschool" Braun whose topic was about how to blog. If you get on over there right now you'll see that she was blogging at the convention as much as the fickle WiFi would allow. She posted notes of the seminars she attended, so I don't think hitting the highlights of her own would be a major faux pas.

Here's what I learned from Spunky yesterday: blog what you know. Hooray! I'm already doing that! I have to admit that I felt a bit weird when she asked those of us who already have blogs to give the names (as a bit of free advertising) and most of them had gloriously "homeschool" sounding names. But hey! I live on a high hill and there is a spiritual connotation to it as well. That was all lost in the verbal translation, obviously. Oh, well. We did make some connection when I stated that I blog anonymously and she answered that she does, too. Her name isn't really Spunky? I was shocked!

I was happy to hear that a blog should be whatever the writer wants it to be. I've always felt it might be nice to have a few readers along the way, too, but I suppose when I first began blogging I thought those were optional. After all, I've kept various journals through the years and I don't particularly want my children, let alone the whole general public, reading them! The kids can have fun with those after I'm dead. (Just teasing. Nothing of interest in them, kids so forget all about them. We were homeschoolers so you were with me 24/7. You already knew everything that happened when it happened.)

There were some questions asked concerning making money at blogging. Is that possible?! I've always used my blog as a means of saving money, not making it! I've got several "frugal" blogs that I frequent that have made it so I'll not to need to buy toothpaste for, oh, say, the next 2 years or so. And I consider blogging to save us tons of money in that social networking is my therapy. We would be spending a heap of money on counseling to help me keep my sanity otherwise. (Contact me via email if you need to know where to send a monetary donation.) I'm not actually interested in making money with my blog. Good thing, right?

Spunky said she started blogging when her daughter told her she "had opinions and the rest of the family were sick of hearing them." I started blogging when I realized that the comments I was leaving at others' were long enough to be posts themselves.

Since I am not particularly vocal with my political views - although I do have them, and they are strongly held - my blog obviously doesn't fit into the politic genre either. What genre exactly does mine fit under? Is there one for "the rantings of lunatics who live in parsonages on hills?" That doesn't quite fit me either. I don't live in a parsonage.

Stay tuned for more workshop notes. Don't worry. I only attended four of them so I only need to remember the other three now.

My Continuing Education, Part 1

Whaddaya know! You can teach an old dog new tricks! Since I'm that old dog I feel that I can say this with a sense of certainty.

I am talking about my attendance yesterday at the Midwest Homeschool Convention which is taking place in downtown Cincinnati. It ends in a few hours so it is a bit late for you to hop plane, train, or automobile to get there. But don't despair because there's always next year. Mark your calendars for April 8-10, 2010 and make plans to attend. I think you will be glad you did.

So what did I learn at the convention? Lots! This will require several posts. I'll start with the things learned outside of the actual workshops:

  • Six degrees of separation exists. An out-of-town blogger asked me if I would be attending the conference. My initial answer of "iffy" became "affirmative." She didn't know my real name. One solution would be to take my blog picture to the event coordinator and ask, "Do you know 'Karabeth'?" to which the reply would be, "Karabeth? Her name isn't 'Karabeth!" It's ---- and that's her son, ---- who is friends with my son." I found that this revelation would be a total shocker to both parties involved, hence yesterday's name disclaimer. I'm not normally a name-dropper - my own or others - so this six degree stuff is not something that I usually acknowledge. I'm the kind of person who operates along the lines of "Hey, Karabeth, so-and-so would like to bring her friend Miley Cyrus to lunch on Sunday. Is that okay?" to which my reply would be "Does she like roast? Because that's what we're having." You get the picture. I know people, some who are more influential than the aforementioned*. I just don't intentionally use people. I'm not much of a groupie.
  • We received some pats on the back and verbal "atta-girls" because Karen and I are mother-daughter homeschooling moms. After 23 years of homeschooling I guess I am one of the pioneers. The fact that Karen was home-educated the whole way through seems to be a rarity. That she chooses to do the same for her own children? Even more so. I was a bit surprised to be the recipient of any admiration from my own friends and acquaintances but was humbled that the Lord allowed us to offer visual and vocal encouragement to them. Wow! Thank you, Lord!
  • Homeschooled, teenaged boys enjoy attending the convention. The Bear is proof positive of this. Accordingly, plan to attend next year and bring your teenagers!
  • I crave - no, I require - socialization myself. Did I ever tell you how alone I felt when we first started homeschooling in 1986? And also how far from our family we were at the time? No cell phones, computers, or free long distance? Yes, I think I've told you that before. Let's just say that even little introverted me felt a wonderful sense of belonging yesterday.
  • I love looking at curriculum! I used to get all my ideas from providing written narratives for parents who use that option to satisfy the Ohio code. Talking to parents and finding out what they liked or didn't often provided me with marvelous ideas for teaching my own students. I gave up my clientele several years ago so I am not usually familiar with new products and services. But since I am one of those people who feels it absolutely necessary to fit the curriculum to the learning style of the child we have changed or adapted for each of our children. Very little has survived from Karen through to the Bear. Each had a tailor-made course of study based upon their needs, what was "out there" at the time, and my own ability to implement the program. Yesterday, I felt like a kid in a candy store. And I bought lots of candy. :)
  • I found that I need this burst of encouragement to get me through the current school year and to ignite the fire of excitement for the next one. I never thought I'd be saying, "I can't wait for next year!" when we haven't even finished this year yet.

So that is my list of a few things that I learned outside of the workshops. It is far from exhaustive, but it is a great representative sample of my continuing education.

*Update and clarification: the "aforementioned" meaning the event coordinators, not Miley Cyrus. I don't want a bunch of teeny-boppers, Hollywood zanies, or paparazzi showing up for Sunday dinner in the hopes of catching glimpses of superstars. But if you are planning to be here for Sunday dinner, please RSVP. Thanks. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name . . .

With my apologies to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in my case "A rose by any other name would. . ." be just as much a stinker!

I've got a few more readers now than just a few weeks ago, and based upon some of the comments that I've been getting lately on the blog and in email (I'm looking at you, Darcy) I need to set the facts straight. Those who have been with me for awhile or know me personally already know these little tidbits. I felt it best to enlighten the rest of you before our relationship goes any further. (Goodness, why do I feel like I'm confessing something horrible to those I love?)

  1. Child #1 really is named "Karen."
  2. Children #2, #3, and #4 are not named "Lulu, Princess, and Bear." Aw, don't cry.
  3. The grandchildren are not really named "Polly, Tigger, and Sweet Pea" either. Nope, not even Polly.
  4. Pastor Dad's name is not really "Pastor Dad" although very descriptive and appropriate.
  5. But what I really needed to tell you is that my real name is not KARABETH.
I can hear the big collective gasp of those who are saying, "Oh, but I just love that name." Yeah, well, me too. It just doesn't happen to be the one assigned to my person anywhere except in the blog world.

I hope that you love me and not just my blog name because "parting is such sweet sorrow." Sigh.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Pendulum of Life

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Romans 12:15

April 15, 2009 was a very eventful day for two friends of mine, specifically, two blog friends. These "events" marked both extremes of life.

My dear friend, Allyson, whom I've known literally since the day she was born, lost her grandmother. Allyson's granny was a wonderful lady whom I loved dearly. I was saddened to hear of the cancer that was controlling her body when it was diagnosed just a few short weeks ago. Allyson's blog is called So This Is Life...., and yes, unfortunately, as long as we are residents of this world we will witness death in this life. The good news is that Allyson's granny will never witness it again. This life is over for her and her eternal one has begun. I grieve with Allyson for her loss. If you get a chance to stop by her blog and leave a comment of condolence, I would much appreciate it.

Another blogging buddy welcomed her first grandchild into the world! New life began on earth for Donna's much-anticipated first grandchild! It hasn't been an easy week for Donna and family as they waited and prayed over what they knew would be the early arrival of this little one. I praise the Lord with Donna as she celebrates the birth of her little grandson. Stop over at Living on the Creek and leave Donna and her husband Tim a note of congratulations.

Although only virtually, yesterday we alternately grieved and celebrated with people who mean so much to us. Yesterday was a very graphic reminder to me of the type of emotional pendulum that a pastor can often experience.

There was a day several years ago when Pastor Dad and I left the funeral of a woman we had known to visit another woman who had just given birth. Within minutes we shed tears of sorrow with the grieving family and tears of happiness with the rejoicing family. I don't often make these kind of rounds with my husband but this extreme in emotions is nothing new to him or the other dedicated folks within his profession. So if you think your pastor exhibits signs of mood swings you are probably right. A good pastor will do just that.

Allyson, Donna, our prayers are with your families during these times. So this is life....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Need Some Uplifting News?

Yeah, I've been MIA during the last week. I've been overtaken by a severe case of the blahs. I feel like one of the tug-of-war toys that the dogs, Pepper and Zelda, fight over all the time.

And it doesn't help that today is tax day. Boo! Except of course, that we filed ours months ago. But since Pastor Dad is one of those dedicated people who helps others get their taxes filed his stress levels have been higher than normal, too. He also lives with me and my emotional turmoils. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, my mother invited me out for lunch yesterday - just us two - purely so that I could have a day off from my "normal." Thanks, Mom. And she paid. Is she great or what? SHE'S GREAT! That's what!

Mom had other things on her mind besides me (and my mental/emotional state) and the lunch menu. She was concerned about two people at her church who were in surgery even as we ate our lunch. She called me last night to tell me how it all turned out.

There is a young man, a father of several young children, at their church who desperately needed a kidney transplant. Close family members were not able to be donors for various reasons. Dialysis was the only thing keeping the man alive as he waited for a match to be made with an anonymous donor.

There is another young man at their church, a Christian brother who is in no way biologically related, who said that God laid it upon his heart to be tested. He did. And he was a perfect match.

Yesterday, young man #2 donated a kidney to young man #1. The donated kidney started functioning soon after everything was in place.

What an awesome story. And what an awesome God!

Now, don't we all feel better knowing that none of our big or petty problems are too hard for God?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Books of March 2009

Well, I did a little bit better this month. I can't say that I actually had much more time to read than I did in February, but with Lulu here to do the laundry one can only imagine how much more time I will have during this next month. :)

  1. The Christian Lover, by Michael A. G. Haykin. This is a book that Pastor Dad bought for me while I was away in TN for the basketball tournament at the end of February. Before you get the wrong idea, see here for more information. This volume is a compilation of historical letters written mostly between husbands and wives whose names most would recognize. I loved the book. Read it.

  2. No One Cares What You Had for Lunch, by Margaret Mason. This is the book that has 100 seed thoughts for blog ideas. I was able to read this quickly as I was riding in the car one afternoon. I was particularly amused that while reading #10 "Get Nostalgic" which has a classic notebook paper picture with the words "BOYS ARE SEXXY" on it I looked up to see a boy who looked like he hadn't washed himself or his clothes in weeks. The clothes were also such that they were just barely covering his robust stomach and his pants were riding low. Not particularly "sexxy" in my opinion. But the book was full of brainstorming ideas.

  3. Patriots in Petticoats, by Shirley Raye Redmond. This is a fairly new children's book (2004) about heroines of the American Revolution. I read it mainly to see how biased the history in it might be. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was well rounded. Women who sewed and cooked for the troops were presented as being just as important to the cause of liberty as those who fought in disguise or took positions behind the cannons of fallen men. I know this is a kid's book. But as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution I am always interested in reading the stories of patriots. I was also aware of the fact that many recognized patriot ancestors are, in fact, women. Something to consider if you desire membership but can't find a man in your line who soldiered.

  4. In Faithfulness He Afflicted Me, by Lynnette Kraft. If you STILL are not familiar with Lynnette's story you really must go over to her blog and familiarize yourself with the premise of this book and see the adorable pictures of her children. Lynnette gave birth to 9 children but 3 of them are waiting for her in Heaven. This book is about the lessons that she has learned about God from her experiences. Lynnette is one of the people who personifies the type of person I mentioned in my post about Idolatry who did not shake her fists at God in anger or make her children her object of worship. Yes, she questioned, as anyone would. But she never lost her faith. Here is a direct quote from the book:

"It makes it seem worth it all when I can share even bits and pieces of what God has done and hear that somebody's life was touched as a result of my testimony. I want the opportunity to share our story on a bigger scale. I want others to witness the mighty power of God! But I also hope that God will give more to me. More trials? Perhaps. But certainly more love, more hope, more faith, more joy, more compassion, and more of himself every day. I don't necessarily wish for more trials, but I've seen God close up during them, and I acknowledge that his greatest working in my life has been through them."

That pretty much says it all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Lesson In Finance

My submission last week was about the scary experience of releasing one of our neighbor girls from a hole in the backyard. I'd like to clarify that she was about 12 at the time. We were quite scared then but over the years (she is almost 27 now) thinking about it has made it one of the stories we giggle about. That's why you might've been shocked at the comments you encountered from my children. They mostly see that episode with humor now. It was one of those "you had to be there" things to fully appreciate how funny it was . . . when it was over. This week's story is not in the least scary. Hope you enjoy it.

Our daughter, Karen, is pretty good at finances. She graduated from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University when FPU was in its early days. She has the ability to stretch a dollar until George Washington begs for mercy. Here is one of her first lessons in finances.

When Karen was 2 1/2 she became a big sister to the one we now call Lulu (due to the type of stunts she used to pull - like the one related last week). Lulu was my biggest baby by birth weight which was a good thing because once she was born I had very little weight of my own to lose.

Lulu was also a voracious nurser, so much so that my weight began to drop off with alarming rapidity. Having a toddler to chase around the house probably contributed to it, too.

The time came that I weighed less than 100 pounds and was starting to feel more exhausted than even the mother of an infant should so I went to the doctor for some advice. He suggested that I eat a milkshake each day to keep enough fat and calories in my system.

We lived in a little town that sold very little else but ice cream. We had to drive about 10 miles to reach the interstate that would take us to the next 30 miles to the city to buy things like curtains and home furnishings, but between our house and the on ramp were 4 ice cream stands. Each had the word "Dairy" somewhere in the name. Each had a building shaped in some novel way to go with the name. For instance, the Dairy Barn was housed in a big shed that was painted to look like a barn.

Stopping to buy ice cream each day is expensive and as a young family we didn't have much money for extras. One day we neglected to stop because we did not have the funds available. We drove right past those stands to the consternation of Karen riding in the backseat. She could talk quite well so she voiced objections as we passed each one.

Finally, we couldn't console her any longer. We explained that we didn't have any money. The shrewd little tot stated matter-of-factly, "Oh, is that all? Just stop at The Owl (ATM). It always has money."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Yes, it is Tuesday again. For one thing, it is time for another post dealing with depression. For another, it was dog park day but we did not go. It was about 35 degrees and the flurries were flying. The dogs will need to find a way to deal with their own cause of depression today.

This devotion has the dubious distinction of being written while I myself am suffering from the blues. Therefore, I need feedback. Tell me what helps you deal with this issue. If you don't want to post your comments publicly then send them to me privately at Send me scripture passages that you've found to be the balm for your aching soul.

I almost let this cause and its associated personality go by without comment as I made a hasty exit from the book of Genesis. The Lord decided that I needed to stop and smell the sauerkraut. German heritage aside, I do not like the taste of sauerkraut, let alone the pungent odor of it cooking. So instead of moving on we are stopping over, backtracking actually, for two more lessons from the book of Genesis that I find particularly unsavory. The second lesson will follow next week.

So here I am in the doldrums. Longing has taken over my emotions. I want . . . Well, it doesn't really matter what I want. Ahab longed for Naboth's vineyard. Rachel and Hannah each longed for a child. The disciples longed for Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel. Longing in and of itself does not seem to be sinful. It isn't wrong to long for God or for Heaven. It isn't wrong to long for promises to be fulfilled. It isn't wrong to long for better days.

As mentioned, Rachel had a longing for a child. I don't need a family tree to suggest that I am descended from Rachel - I might actually be descended from Leah or one of the servant girls since I don't have a clue from which son of Jacob my Jewish branch descends - but I suspect that tempermentally I am a daughter of Rachel.

Childlessness is not my situation but that was the cause of Rachel's longing. This caused her much despair. She cried to Jacob to give her a child or she would die. If you are familiar with the story you know just how ironic this statement was and also how much literary foreshadowing it contains.

This is how I know I am very much like Rachel. Sometimes whether God grants my petitions or not the objects of my affection reach the point of squeezing the life out of me. If I do not get what I want I might despair of it and if I do get it I might even regret that I longed for it, especially as I clean it, feed it, pick up after it, or begin to loathe it for one reason or the other. I think sometimes God teaches me lessons just by granting my requests. Be careful what you ask God to give you. You just might get it.

I am not too deeply into this study and I already see part of the answer to the problem. It would seem that sometimes longing is nothing more than a polite word for envy. This can be seen from Genesis 30:1 where it is plainly spells out that Rachel envied Leah because of the children that God had given to her sister.

I find it interesting that Jacob had very little sympathy for her. Her husband did not seem to understand why Rachel had any complaint. Jacob's thoughts might have been similar to those of Elkanah who years later asked Hannah, "Am not I better to thee than ten sons?" (I Sam. 1:8) Frankly, no. That is not comparing apples with apples. It wasn't that Rachel didn't love Jacob or that Hannah didn't love Elkanah. It was that Jacob and Elkanah each had children by another so they were not lacking the thing that was important to their barren wives.

I have very little respect for Jacob's response. His quick retort of "Am I in God's stead . . .?" fell well short of comfort. At least he didn't quip, "Go help Leah care for her children. She could probably use it."

No, Jacob was not the God who could put babies in wombs, but a more sympathetic and Biblical response would have been to take the request to the very God who could. This was the example of Jacob's own father, Isaac, who had offered a prayer after his own 20 childless years of marriage to Rebekah. Genesis 25:21 tells us that Isaac prayed and that God granted his request. In Rachel's case Jacob neglected to petition God but instead agreed to a similar "solution" to that of his grandparents, Sarah and Abraham.

According to Psalm 50:14-16 Isaac's example would have been the proper one for Jacob and Rachel to follow. It says, "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High: and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?"

The thing that Rachel desired was not evil. The sin was not in wanting something good. The sin can be found in the fact that she allowed her desire to manipulate a sinful solution in an attempt to acquire the desired baby. The end does not justify the means. Her envy of another's children came between her and God.

It is also true that impatience sometimes creeps in while waiting for the desired petition to be answered. Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."

If longing has occupied your heart I pray that you will not resort to sinful behavior to obtain it. I pray that you will be able to wait with patience for the Lord to answer in His way and in His time.

The first lesson: Perfectionism.
The second lesson:
The third lesson:
The fourth lesson:
The fifth lesson:
The sixth lesson: Victimization.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Best and Worst of the Weekend

The Best:

  • Pastor Dad and I had our bicycles checked and reconditioned last week in anticipation of warm weather riding. Yesterday turned out to be an inviting day. We got out and pushed those pedals for approximately 5 miles. It may not sound like much but it ain't just bikes that need reconditioning after a winter in storage!
  • Lulu brought her Amish Friendship Bread starter with her. Since I was the one who gave her a start about a year ago I guess it just came back home. We keep starter frozen in storage bags when we get overwhelmed with the stuff. I began feeding one less than 2 weeks ago. Bread baking day was yesterday. Instead of taking out the portions to be shared I just removed my own 1 cup of starter and used the rest of it to make bread. By tripling the recipe I was able to make 6 loaves for our house, Karen, and the Princess. Since the Bear will have 1 of our loaves polished off in just a few minutes from now having just 2 loaves obviously isn't enough for our family. But having 3 or 4 loaves of our own and having some to share without overwhelming others with their own starters to feed seemed like a good idea.
  • Everyone (except Sgt. Dan who would be "suffering" in CA - ha!) was here for dinner today. I always have a warm and cozy feeling when I have my family gathered around me. Of course, the "warm" part of that feeling might have something to do with something from the "Worst" list, but more on that later.
  • One of the ladies from church gave me a handmade gift. She made me a set of 3 cozy sacks, or whatever they're called, all in assorted sizes. These are the rice bags that can be heated in the microwave. Thanks to the 5 mile bike ride I've been warming mine up all day. :)
  • Karen, Lulu, the Princess, and I are practicing a quartet special for next week's Easter musical presentation at church. The Bear is feeling "left out" but we can't let him sing with us right now. His voice can't seem to decide if it is soprano or tenor. :D

The Worst:

  • One of those 12 hour nasty stomach viruses decided to stop by for a visit this weekend. Since I get dehydrated in a hurry I found myself sick, feverish, and swollen around the extremities.
  • On top of that I had several really nasty nosebleeds yesterday. Pastor Dad found me on the bed with blood-soaked tissues last night. I think I scared him. I really didn't pass out like he first imagined. I took a hot bath to combat the chills and became drowsy. It could've been the long bike ride, the virus, or the fact that I'd had several nose bleeds already during the day, but when I got out of the bath and found I had another one I packed my nose and went straight to bed. Poor Pastor Dad. He didn't even know I'd gone to bed so when he found me and the blood he was somewhat panicked.
  • After we'd established that I was alive and well - a relative term at that point - I fell back asleep only to awaken many times throughout the night. First I was too hot. Then I was too cold. I just wanted to be Goldilocks and find the part that was just right. Never happened. But whether too hot or too cold I was always drenched in sweat. Could be germs. Could be my age. Could be both. Could be that I'm hoping it was just a germ so I don't have too many nights like that one!

But one way or the other the weekend is now over. Tomorrow our local "boys of summer" will be taking up their positions in the field. Let's just hope those fields aren't covered by stuff left over from the "weather of winter." Looks like my body isn't the only thing around these parts that can't decide what temperature it wants to be.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And The Winner Is...


Congratulations, Morgan. Your books will be on their way post haste which means as hastily as the post office can get them to you. Now that I think about it that might really be where that phrase originated. Hmm.

The winner of the contest was determined in a totally scientific manner. Not! But it was fair and random. It was double-blind, too, in that a totally uninterested party with his eyes closed (the Bear) reached into an opaque bowl containing equal-sized cardboard squares with numbers written on them. The numbers had been assigned to each entry. When he handed me the winning number I looked at my list of participants to match the name with the number.

I hope you enjoy your books, Morgan. Since a few other members of your family also entered I have the feeling that you'll be asked by someone if they can borrow the books from you. Just thought I'd warn you. :)

Thanks to all who participated.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Welcome, Friends!

Thank you Lynette, for the honor of being one of the Getting To Know You bloggers today. I have to admit that I just love this idea so much because I am a relatively new blogger. I was blessed to find Lynette's blog pretty early on and to participate in Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane which enabled me to make many friends quickly . That makes her one of my guides around the blogosphere, I think.

I feel a bit sheepish (doggish?) that my last post was about my, uh, granddogs when I have three adorable granddaughters who say and do so many "bloggable" things. Click on Grandchildren (under Labels on right sidebar) if you'd like to read about their antics. I guess at least the dogs won't feel embarrassed by the things I report about them like the rest of the family does sometimes. Or perhaps the dogs will feel that way. Read on to see why I am uncertain about canine feelings. :)

P.S. I also have a contest going that ends tonight. Find it here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Every Dog Has Its Day

The following story is true. I can't explain it, but it's true.

I am blessed(?) to have six granddogs. Yes, you read that right. Six.
  • Karen and Prince Charming have 0. They have actual human children, our granddaughters.
  • Lulu and Ssgt. Dan have 4. They are all in temporary housing while their human parents are in transition thanks to the USAF. Two (Onyx and Zelda) live here with us; one (Zeus) lives nearby with SSgt. Dan's parents; and one (George) lives with the Princess and Prince Valiant. You can see their pictures here at Lulu's blog.
  • The Princess and Prince Valiant have 1 of their own (Fergie).
  • The Bear has 1. That one - Pepper - is a permanent resident of this house, as is the Bear.

A few weeks ago I told you that we reintroduced Pepper, and introduced Onyx and Zelda, to the city's dog park, That was a gloriously beautiful Saturday, the first nice Saturday of the year, and it almost seemed as though everyone within driving distance who had a canine companion was there. You can surely understand why.

We decided a couple of weeks ago to go back on a Tuesday and to stop at Dan's parents' house to get Zeus. Lou wasn't sure how he would react to the park. Aggressive dogs are not allowed for obvious reasons. Zeus isn't normally that aggressive, but he is big and new situations can turn any dog ornery.

That trip turned out to be such a success as Zeus romped around the park with his siblings, cousin, and dogs not previously known that we decided to do it again the next week on Tuesday. Everyone (everydog?) was on their best behavior.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday. We looked at the weather forecast the night before and things looked a bit iffy. But somehow Pepper knew on Tuesday that it was the day we have been going to the dog park. She kept trying to get out of the house - even more so than usual - and getting into the car whether it was in the garage or in the driveway. She also kept running up to me and trying to get me to go with her. Think of Lassie trying to get Timmy's mother's attention after he'd fallen down a well.

So off to the dog park we went. It was a bit cloudy and cold but we went. We just didn't stay quite as long as usual. And we didn't stop to get Zeus.

Later, Dan's mom called Lulu and said that Zeus was very upset. He wouldn't eat Tuesday evening and seemed to be grieving. He had spent the whole day sitting by their front door. Just waiting. Waiting for what? Evidently he was waiting for Lulu to come get him to go to the dog park.

How did they know it was Tuesday? And does going two weeks in a row on the same day constitute a regularly scheduled event?

I've heard it said that every dog has its day. Apparently around here that day is Tuesday.

This Season's "White"

I much prefer the kind of white that Spring shows us as opposed to the abundant white of winter that we experienced not so very long ago. The Bradford pear trees are in full bloom. There is a street between our house and the church that is lined on both sides with them. It is a very gorgeous drive. The color of the sky was nice, too.

My Delft blue hyacinths are in bloom also. Okay, they aren't white but I wanted to show them anyway. I only wish I had the technology available that you could smell them. Mmm. The photo doesn't do justice to their beauty or their fragrance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Lesson In Being Literal

Welcome to my Walk Down Memory Lane with Lynette Kraft and others who are participating today. Before I begin with this week’s memory I’d like to remind everyone of my Give Away this week.

A few days ago, Lynette posted pictures (see the last two) that reminded me of an incident that happened many years ago. The picture that jogged my memory was the one of her son, Harrison, standing in a hole in their yard. Unfortunately, we have no pictures to document my child-in-the-hole-in-the-backyard story.

One day when Pastor Dad and I had made a shopping trip to one of the big box stores to load up on pantry supplies we left our children at home under the care of our oldest, Karen. While we were unloading the supplies, Karen came running out the door to tell us that one of their friends, Annie, was stuck in the yard. Since we had all sorts of playground equipment adorning our yard we naturally thought that either her hand or a piece of clothing was caught in something. Consequently, Pastor Dad grabbed some soap to grease whatever was stuck.

When he exited the patio door to the backyard he could not see Annie. It turned out that Annie literally was stuck “in” the backyard. Upon careful inspection he could just barely see the top of her head sticking out of a hole that had been dug in the soft dirt of our garden plot.

Obviously, soap was not going to do the trick. Pastor Dad grabbed a shovel and the two of us made a quick assessment of the situation. The children, consisting of our Lulu and Princess, coupled with some of the six siblings who lived across the street, had dug a deep hole with some now-forgotten purpose in mind. Annie had fallen into the hole with her knees and arms compressed against her chest. And to top it all off, there was only about one hour of daylight remaining.

We quickly got to work shoveling dirt from the hole, but the more we dug the deeper Annie sunk and the tighter her appendages hugged her body. After a few attempts and several minutes of wasting precious daylight we decided to change our plan of attack.

Should we call the fire department? Folklore said they rescued cats out of trees. Should we call them to help get a stuck child out of a hole?

We decided that our best option was to use the remaining light to dig a parallel hole and connect the two. That way the hole would be wide enough for Annie to unfold without sinking deeper.

We set to work. Between the two of us we were able to dig that second hole fast enough and close enough to the first one without either dropping dirt on Annie or collapsing the thin wall between the two.

When the work was completed Annie slowly stood up. It took some time for the blood to return to all of her extremities. The sun was just retreating over the horizon.

After Annie went home all covered with dirt and we had returned all the tools to the shed, we questioned Lulu about this escapade. I’ve forgotten many of the things she told us. What does remain in my mind was what they used as their measuring sticks: Annie’s younger sister, Ariel, and Lulu’s younger sister, the Princess.

It turns out that we hadn’t told the children that they couldn’t dig deep holes in the gardens and we hadn’t told them that they couldn’t stick their younger siblings into holes. Needless to say, we put a stop to any more attempts to reach China – or whatever – via holes in our garden. And children were no longer to be used for measuring sticks unless feet were firmly planted on the ground and individuals were matching their height back-to-back.

Children can be so literal. Sometimes parents must be very specific in their instructions as a result. :)